Day 1: The queen lays an egg in either a worker cell or a specially prepared queen cup.
Day 3: The egg hatches. The worker bees have until day 4 to enlarge a worker cell into a queen cell to create an emergency queen.
Day 3-8: The queen is fed a diet of royal jelly only
Day 8: The queen cell is capped. Queen cells look like a half peanut stuck into or hanging from the comb.
Day 16: The adult queen emerges.
Virgin queens may make a piping sound while in the cell. The first queen to hatch may pipe to search out any other virgin queens and kill them, if they are allowed to by the worker bees.
6 days after hatching the queen, weather permitting, will leave the hive for her mating flights. She has until approximately two weeks after hatching to complete mating, or she will be able to lay drones only and the hive will fail. Drones from DCA’s are attracted by her scent and she will mate with up to 40 drones. Once her sperm sac is full she returns to the hive to rest. Three days later she begins laying eggs.
The queen is the sole layer of eggs in a hive. She is responsible for the genetic traits expressed by the worker bees. A poorly performing hive may improve with a new queen. A “hot” or aggressive hive will have a different genetic base and temperament 6 weeks after requeening.